EPT Prague: Two becomes one
The line-up for day 1b at EPT Prague read like a glittering who's who of modern poker. There were EPT champions and online legends and then a man entered the house with the biggest reputation of all: Europe welcomed back to its bosom Peter Eastgate, the 22-year-old Dane who went to Las Vegas in the summer alongside more than 6,800 other hopefuls and came home with all the bacon. Eastgate - for the benefit of cave dwellers - is the newly-crowned World Champion, but $9 million seemed to rest easy on his shoulders.
"I played this tournament last year," Eastgate said, taking charge of the microphone for shuffle up and deal formalities. "But I busted in level five. I'm hoping I can do better this year." Not quite, Peter. Not quite.
Eastgate, in fact, started on one of the toughest tables in the room and was one of its inevitable casualties. His A-K was outdrawn by Stuart Rutter's excellently-disguised A-3 during the late afternoon, and Eastgate's homecoming was not as glorious as it might have been.
But there was no shame in elimination today. The same fate befell the Team PokerStars Pros Alex Kravchenko, Katja Thater and William Thorson. It befell the former EPT champions Pascal Perrault, Mike McDonald, Jan Boubli, Roland de Wolfe, William Fry, Sander Lyloff and Andreas Hoivold. It befell such proven quality performers as Ben Grundy, Marc Goodwin, Nicolas Levi, Ramzi Jelassi and Praz Bansi.
But it's a measure of the talent here that emerging from the wreckage of day 1b are still numerous notable names. Dario Minieri's charge continues. The Team PokerStars Pro, a final table player last time out in Warsaw, remains in the hunt into day two and finished with more than 50,000.
Whatever Minieri's team-mate Noah Boeken got up to today, it was always likely to be much less loud than his violently garish hoodie. But Boeken's silent progress through the field meant he bagged up 17,000 chips overnight.
The very top of the tree is adorned by players from Sweden, France, Italy, Finland and Germany. They are Christer Johansson (110,000), Manuel Bevand (105,000), Alessio Isaia (93,500), Fredrik Nygard (60,000) and Marcel Baran (50,000). There's a whole lot of EPT experience among that lot - as well as the expected new faces.
When the field merges tomorrow, and the survivors of two days come together, there will still be fewer than 190 players in total. We reduced 298 into 96 today and 272 into 88 last night. Those 184 left now know what they are playing for: it's a first prize of €774,000, from a total prize pool of close to €3 million. Full payout details are available on the prizes page.
We'll probably play down close to the bubble tomorrow, which will burst when player number 57 departs. And then Friday and Saturday's action, under the gaze of EPT live, will decide our champion.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The following links give a review of today's action:
Another day, another nine million dollars
Schleicher stepping up
Biggest pot of the day
Minieri: All blinged up and nowhere to go
Aren't you the man they call the Minieri kid?
Peter and friends: a round with the world champion
You can't win 'em all: Eastgate out
There's only Juan Maceiras
EPT Prague in numbers
Ins and outs
The Nordic charge
The local boy from Italy
All yours Barbosa
The Juan and only Maceiras
And if it's EPT Prague as a means to the betterment of your language skills, then you can take the beginner's course in Swedish poker commentary; or elementary Hungarian; maybe even grade five Italian, or advanced German. You might not learn how to ask the way to the train station, but you'll be fine for button raises, nut flushes and the like.
All the video blogs from the tournament, as well as an archive of all previous televisual excitement, is always available at PokerStars.tv. Thanks, as always, to Neil Stoddart for the static images, and there'll be more of all the same tomorrow.
Until then, goodnight.